Monday, August 13, 2012

'Midnight in Paris' and the Trouble with Nostalgia

I know I'm late to the party on this one as well, but I only recently saw Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and I enjoyed it quite a bit. One of the most provocative aspects the film is that it invites its audience to daydream about which point in history they'd most like to experience. Which is why its so strange to me that I ultimately wound up siding with Michael Sheen's character - the "pedantic" pseudo-intellectual who criticizes the manner in which Owen Wilson's Gil romanticizes the past.

It's probably ridiculous to approach the film's premise with any degree of logic as it's clearly meant to be pure whimsy. This is evident in the way Allen presents the most iconic artists of the 1920s. They're not nuanced or complicated characters - they're the two-dimensional Disney theme park versions of Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, etc. They say and do everything you'd want or expect them to, but not much else.